Vaughan’s Vocabulary

Don Vaughan provides infrequently used words to strengthen your vocabulary.

I have authored a preparation outline for a six-minute informative speech, primarily as a teaching tool for my public speaking students. The speech informs my audience about the four parts of the Declaration of Independence. I point out that in this document the colonies’ representatives 237 years ago asserted their independence and explained the reasons for their break from Britain.

Every American needs to learn more about the Declaration of Independence; rarely do we hear anything about it other than during the Fourth of July. I make it a point to present the speech during October, March and July just before the students present theirs.

I thought it would be good to devote this week’s Vaughan’s Vocabulary to some things about this great document in our American history.

1. The first part is

A. the bill of rights.

B. the Preamble.

C. a listing of the 13 colonies.

D. the date of July 4, 1776.

Helen Peterson’s book “The Story of the Declaration of Independence” described the Preamble as the dignified opening sentence. (B)

2. The Preamble starts with

A. Fourscore and seven years ago …

B. When in the course of human events

C. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.

D. King George III is a tyrant.

3. philippic (fi-LIP-ic)

A. sharp

B. philosophical

C. tyrannical

D. any speech or discourse of bitter denunciation

No. 2 is B. As for No. 3, I use the noun philippic in my informative speech: J.H. Plumb in his essay “George III, Our Last King,” said that since Thomas Jefferson’s great philippic, few historians have had good words to say about him (George III).” D is the answer. The word philippic came from a Grecian orator’s practice of bashing Philip, king of Macedon.

4. dissolutions (dis-uh-LOO-shuns)

A. debates that turn into fights

B. hate speech

C. An order issued by the head of a state terminating a parliament and necessitating a new election

D. None of the above

Dissolutions, appearing in the third part of the DOI, is referring to the times King George dissolved “Representative Houses” for opposing his invasions on the rights of the people. C is the answer.

Last week’s mystery word is ailurophile.

This week’s mystery word to solve and a village maiden’s name in Bizet’s opera “Carmen” have the same first three letters. The former means “a little world.”

Don R. Vaughan, Ph.D., of Eupora is a speech and theater professor at East Mississippi Community College, Golden Triangle. Contact him at